HELP WANTED – Suggestions for me regarding New Zealand?

Remember when I was looking for some interesting opportunities for my fall sabbatical? Well, those didn’t pan out so much (thanks for the offer to teach middle school again, Russ!) and I’ve spent that time working on my 3 books (yes, 3; more on those later)…

NewzealandrakaiagorgeHowever, at the risk of inciting intense personal jealousy, I’m extraordinarily fortunate to announce that – with Iowa State University’s permission – I will have a 12–week visiting faculty fellowship at The University of Canterbury (UC) in Christchurch, New Zealand next spring. I’ll be doing some teaching, interacting with faculty and practicing educators, meeting school leaders and seeing schools, presenting at the Learning@School conference, doing some work with Core Education, etc.

I don’t know a lot about New Zealand other than that the UC and Core Education folks have been most welcoming and that the scenery is spectacular. What should I see and do (either personally or professionally)? Even more importantly, with whom should I connect while I’m there?! [contact info would be helpful; are there any New Zealand educator Twitter lists?]

We’re really looking forward to our trip. Any suggestions you have for me and my family to make the most of our experience as honorary Kiwis would be most welcome!

Image credit: Rakaia Gorge

22 Responses to “HELP WANTED – Suggestions for me regarding New Zealand?”

  1. Well I’m currently enrolled in their high school program, so welcome! Do you mean spring southern hemisphere time or spring our time?

    • Sorry. My spring, not New Zealand’s. Starting in February…

      • In that case, you’ll want to go to one of the Super 15 Rugby games (The Christchurch home team is one of the leading sides in the contest). Hamner Springs is about an hour or so drive away from Christchurch, Kaikoura has a good whale watching tour. You can take a train over to the West Coast through one of the passes in the Southern Alps. Queenstown is about four hours drive away and has a lot of the adventure tourism and is a good place to use as a base to do a tour to Milford Sound.

  2. What a fabulous opportunity! I just moved to New Zealand two weeks ago and it’s AMAZING. Hopefully by the time you come over here I’ll know a little bit more about the country and can give you some insider tips. For now, just know it’s FAB.

  3. Kia ora, What a wonderful opportunity you have ahead of you. Not just because I am biased towards New Zealand, but because any chance to immerse in another culture is a gift. We enjoy hosting international educators in our school, and a bunch of your compatriots who visited at the same time last year (sent to us by CORE-ed) have been writing up their experience in Learning and Leading magazine. Check out one of the articles in the latest magazine here

    And if you want a real cultural introduction to education in New Zealand, watch this video – it has English subtitles 🙂

    Look forward to seeing you at Learning at School.

    Auckland, NZ

  4. Fantastic news, New Zealnad is beautiful and the weather is wonderful and warm in February. If you are on the South Island I suggest visiting Queenstown, it is a stunning mountain town and the drive is stunning.

    I teach up in Auckland now but studied at the University of Canterbury just two years back, a great uni.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for all of the suggestions so far.

    @Marian: Glad to know it’s FAB. We suspected as much!

    @Dorothy: I’ll check out those articles and the video. Please come up and say hi in February in Rotorua!

    @Mr. Wood: We definitely will check out Queenstown. What grade do you teach in Auckland? We’ll be there at some point in our stay…

  6. Hi Scott,

    I’ve only been once, but be sure to get out and take a few good hike. My son and I did a 5-day (not strenuous) inn to inn hike of the Able Tasman Coast on the northwest part of the South Island. You will be so close to some world class hiking areas.

    I would contact Andrew Churches who works in Aukland, a co-author with Ian Jukes on a number of books and a classroom teacher. I can send his email if you’d like.

    Happy travels!


  7. At Canterbury is Tim Bell ( in the CS department. His CS UNPLUGGED is a really great project that helps teach comptuer science concepts to younger students though activities that do not involve computers but do involve a lot of hands on activities. And he is a really nice guy as well.

  8. My husband and I honeymooned in NZ in 2001. We spent three weeks driving around in an RV. It’s a wonderful way to see the counrty. It seemed like every other vehicle on the South Island was a rented motorhome. If you have time to just travel with the family – I highly recommend it.

    Another suggestion – every highway in the country is covered with all these walking trails. You’ll see signs that will tell you how long hikes will take you – anywhere from 15m – 4days. Stop at as many of the small ones as possible. It’s an increadable way to see a beautiful country.

    Places not to miss –
    *Black Water Rafting experience in Waitomo (north Island)
    *Trip to Milford Sound – if you can afford it fly in… amazing views.
    *Wananka – we loved it so much there we left Queenstown after 1 day to go back. Gorgeous town, beautiful people. And UNBELIEVEABLE Heli-Skiing 🙂

  9. I am glad you will see both islands. I will be teaching Year 8, which I think is Grade 7. You are welcome to visit our school.

  10. If you run into any university library types, let me know if they want to set up a correspondence. I’d be interested to hear how their library’s technology is changing, and be glad to discuss changes we’re working on here.

  11. Well, my friend went to New Zealand several years ago (10?) and she did an activity where you get inside a huge ball and they roll you down a hill!! I believe it was called zorbing. Have fun 🙂

  12. There is so much to see in beautiful NZ.The South Island is truly spectacular and visiting Milford Sound a must. In the North you must go to Waitangi of course and tour the historic home of the Treaty of Waitangi. Also see the beautiful Bay of Islands area and the Hokianga is breathtaking.

    My 10 years teaching in Auckland NZ were the cornerstone of my development as a teacher and I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to do so. Returning to Australia, I had to restart my career all over again but would not have missed the experience Scott. Graeme Aitken, current Dean of Education at the University of Auckland was my first head teacher-amazing man who in the 1990s was truly at the forefront of education.
    Enjoy NZ Scott, I know you will !

  13. Make sure you make it North of Auckland. Most of New Zealand’s early history is up here and we also have some of the best beaches in the world. February is a great time to visit. I work for the University of Auckland faculty of Education supporting schools to implement the ‘new’ New Zealand curriculum. I’m happy to help you if you are going to be in Auckland or Northland.

  14. Hi Scott,

    Canterbury is lovely and there are some great tourist attractions and professional ones to. On the professional stakes I would recommend that you visit the HIT Lab at canterbury university. Its very cool, augmented reality VR and alike – here is the URL: If you are interested in visiting school I would recommend Christ’s College and Rangiruru in Christchurch.

    L@S is in Rotorua, which is a tourist mecca. IF adrenalin is the key for you between sessions then this is the place. I have rafted most of the rivers around there and the Kaituna is a high energy roller coaster and the Rangatiki is 3-4 hours of fun and amazing scenery. If you mountain bike the Redwoods forest (which is within 10minutes bike from the hotels) is amazing. You can hire bikes in Roto-vagus. And then there is hot water, geysers, mud pools and alike too.

    About 3 hours north of Rotorua is Auckland and I would invite you to come and visit my School, Kristin School and I would heartily recommend visiting Dorothy @ point England School. Dorothy and I can easily co-ordinate a visit or two. The schools are at different extremes but both are achieving amazing results.

    If, while in Auckland, you decide to indulge a passion for wine, there is Waiheke Island out in the Gulf which has some of the finest vineyards, beachs and resturuants all within in easy (its a ferry ride).

    The best thing about New Zealand is this list does not even touch the surface of what you can do, as Doug said hiking (we call it tramping) the Abel Tasman National park is a absolute treasure and an experience you will never forget.

    Will be intouch


  15. In terms of visiting innovative schools in Christchurch you can’t go beyond Unlimited Paenga Tawhiti – Project based learning that is relevant and contextualised.

    If you want to get a taste of a typical state secondary school that is reasonably innovative, why not try Papanui High School.

    We are hoping you will be coming along to our Regional Cluster (rural central south island secondary and area schools) event for the leadership of our schools and inspire a few principals. I’m not sure whether Niki Davis has talked to you about this yet, but it was something we had discussed recently. I’m sure you would find the cluster’s focus on blended and online learning quite interesting. Have a look at our portal page on

  16. Hi Scott- you have to seek out Andrew Churches for sure while in New Zealand at @achurches as you already know.

    Here is also a listing of NZ educators for your review:
    eLearning Twitters:

    From Mashable:

    Best of luck and enjoy your learning experience while in NZ, and immerse yourself in the culture!

    Naomi Harm
    Twitter: nharm

  17. Scott,

    The Transalpine train from Christchurch to Greymouth is fantastic. I think your boys would enjoy it.


  18. I am just about to register for your first workshop at Learning at School and thought I had better get to know you better.

    Sorry I have left my run a bit late but better late than never.

    If you want to enjoy some of New Zealand as it was then you do really need to come to the South Island. Nelson, where I am, is beautiful and sandy with some stunning beaches.

    If you can bare to drive on the left side of the road I would suggest driving down the West Coast of the South Island until come to Milford Sound and have your breathe taken away.

    While you’re in Rotorua you need to have a look around the geothermal hot pools. I’d be happy to be your guide if you would like a little company.

    I showed Wes around a couple of years ago when he keynoted at a Learning at School and I’m getting quite good at it!!!!


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